Mindful Meditation

Acqualina Spa by ESPA was honored to have therapist Julie Murphy host a Mindful Meditation class as part of the spa’s monthly Health and Wellness Series. Julie brings with her years of study and professional experience in the fields of anthropology, contemplative psychology, somatics, Buddhist meditation practice and the arts. We sat down with Julie for a Q & A on how to really free you mind, benefits on meditation, client feedback and more. Read on below.

What is Mindful Meditation? 

Most of the time, our attention is distracted by our thoughts and emotions: by our worries or anxieties about the future, and/or regrets of the past. We are rarely truly connected to the present. Mindfulness is a way to hit the pause button and intentionally pay attention to what is happening in the present moment. It is a form of mental training, noticing what is going on, right now. A mindful meditation is the process of taking some time to develop these mindfulness skills during a meditation practice, which may be guided by a facilitator, or done in the quiet of a personal meditation. This technique can leave you feeling rested and rejuvenated, and can lessen the stress of today’s busy lifestyles.

How did you first start practicing Mindfulness?

I have enjoyed a career mostly in technology, living and working in Africa, Europe and the United States.The dynamic and competitive nature of my work was rewarding, as well as demanding, and I began practicing mindfulness and yoga as a form of stress management. The benefits were immediate, as I learnt skills to restore me to a place of balance; re-energized and ready for the next round of business pressures.

How did Mindfulness change your life? 

I discovered I could create optimal balance in my life by bringing mindfulness techniques into every day, so that it became a regular routine and a cornerstone for a life of more ease. I found that through just a few minutes a day (but regularly—this is important), I could change my mindset and prepare for my day from a place of more calm and clarity. It didn’t change the level or volume of responsibilities, commitments or challenges, but it did change my overall approach to being able to deal with them, with more ease.

What if i find it difficult to “empty my mind?”

You’ll be pleased to learn you’re not alone. Mindful meditation is not intended to empty the mind or even push away distracting thoughts. It is an exercise of simply sitting in stillness and observing the thoughts and distractions of your mind, and then choosing to bring the mind again and again to one single point of gentle focus, in the present moment. Emptying the mind is not a goal of mindful meditation—in fact, it is best to have no specific goals or expectations of this exercise. It is enough of a goal to commit to a regular practice of some form of mindfulness.

What are the biggest benefits you have experienced from Mindful Meditation?

Mindful meditation resets my perspective of the world, creates inner calm, and helps bring clarity to my thoughts and actions. Additionally, I enjoy a deeply restful sleep, and bring a positive state of well being into my daily activities.

What common feedback do you hear from your clients?

My students and clients tell me how much this type of meditation helps them reduce stress and create ease in their lives. For those who found it “difficult to meditate”, the guided meditation form of mindfulness was the perfect introduction to these techniques. They were surprised at how initially they didn’t think they could commit to a regular mindfulness meditation practice, and yet with just a few minutes a day, they were able to easily make this important break from a busy life a part of their daily routine.

Tell me a little more about your Mindfulness Meditation background

I am a meditation and yoga teacher from South Africa. I have been teaching in the US since 2007 and studied in India for deeper insights. Mindfulness practices have become my blueprint for a healthier, more balanced life. It is now a pleasure for me to share this experience with others through workshops, speaking engagements, individual tuition and retreats. I am delighted to be internationally recognized for my Yoga Nidra guided relaxation work, and I am energized by its positive impact. You can find out more about the guided meditation recordings and retreats I offer at www.yogaressa.com or reach me at julie@yogaressa.com.